If you’re one of the many fans of redheaded comedic actress Lucille Ball, you may find it hard to believe that she would have turned 100 on August 6, or that her first sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” made its debut 60 years ago this fall. But given her enduring popularity, it’s not hard to believe her life and legendary career are being celebrated from coast to coast.
Fans may want to visit Jamestown in western New York State, where Lucy (and her television alter ego, Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo) was born. Jamestown is home to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, which celebrates the life and work of Lucy and her former husband, Desi Arnaz, including their collaboration on “I Love Lucy.”
The center celebrated Lucy’s 100th birthday on August 6 during the annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy. While the festival is over for this year, the center is a terrific place to love Lucy any time.
There are two side-by-side museums, one – the Desilu Playhouse – dedicated to “I Love Lucy,” and the other to the rest of Lucy and Desi’s long careers in entertainment. The Desilu Playhouse includes a recreation of the Manhattan apartment in which Lucy and Ricky Ricardo lived with their infant son, Little Ricky. Visitors can compare their comic timing to Lucy’s in an interactive exhibit featuring an “I Love Lucy” episode in which Lucy filmed a commercial for “Vitameatavegamin” tonic (which, unknown to her, was laced with alcohol). Lots of Lucy and Desi’s costumes, awards, photographs and other memorabilia are also on display.
Many visitors also like to see the modest house where Lucy grew up, though it is not open to the public. It’s at 59 Lucy Lane in the neighboring village of Celeron, which is also home to the Lucille Ball Memorial Park on Chautauqua Lake. Visitors also gather at Lucy’s grave in Jamestown’s Lake View Cemetery.
If you would rather pay tribute to Lucy on a trip to the Los Angeles area, the Hollywood Museum has a new exhibit that celebrates Lucy’s 100th birthday and the upcoming 60th anniversary of the debut of “I Love Lucy.” The exhibit includes memorabilia, pooled from private collections, that recalls the real-life romance and careers of Lucy and Desi. The exhibit will be up through December 31.
To celebrate your love for Lucy with a visit to Jamestown or Hollywood, talk with your travel professional.